Looking Through The Wrong End Of A Telescope

While the industry buzzes about emerging channels like Facebook, Twitter, MMS, and text messaging, make sure to take it all in context. Without question, things are changing quickly, but these channels are still shaking out. We don't know what we don't know about these new channels. Which will persist? What unexpected consequences will come? When personal computers became affordable, there were visions of a paperless office. But desktop printers have fueled paper consumption, not curbed it. Nobody predicted that plot twist.

Twitter's announcement to include promotions in Twitter searches and eventually in users' streams makes it clear -- we live in interesting times. Will these channels all become so cluttered with advertising that they turn customers away? Debate all you will, but the truth is that we don't know exactly what the future holds.

Except we do.

The fundamentals are still -- well -- fundamental. Gen Y consumers want the same things as the generations before them: good products, good deals, and companies that honor the golden rule.



What's new is the speed at which information travels about which companies are the genuine articles and which are snake oil salesmen.

Go back to the essentials that got you in touch with consumers in the first place. Our research continues to support the validity and effectiveness of these fundamentals and we believe the three basic tenets below will help guide your marketing efforts through the changes we are witnessing. These oldies but goodies will get you back into the hearts of your Gen Y consumers.

1. Permission remains more important than ever.

Your consumers understand that they have choices, and they expect you to deliver meaningful information, tailored to their individual needs, with appropriate frequency, and through desired channels. In other words, they don't want you contacting them unless they have invited you to do so. Period.

Our research has shown that more and more consumers are finding ALL unsolicited promotions unacceptable -- 29% believe unsolicited promotions are simply unacceptable through any direct messaging channel -- be it email, social, mobile, direct mail, or telephone.

Old Trick, New Spin: Give customers a choice! But don't limit that choice to any single channel. In a recent focus group, consumers debated where to find the best deals. They would look across email, Facebook, Twitter, mobile, and direct mail to find the best deals available. Interestingly, we heard several had turned to Facebook, not because they were heavy Facebook users, but because they heard marketers were offering exceptional deals to get more Fans.

Too often offers or content are channel specific. Accommodate a combination of choices to encompass channel, message type, and frequency, and you'll come out on top.

2. Multi-channel success is dependent on overcoming channel competition.

You know you want to improve your multi-channel communications, breaking down silos and budget wars. But sometimes wanting isn't enough. According to our research, 80% of marketers want to improve their multi-channel programs, yet 60% become stuck in isolating, channel-focused budget competitions. In environments where focus remains solely on channel resources, marketers find it difficult to focus on customer-centric objectives.

Old Trick, New Spin: Gen Y consumers don't live their lives in channel silos and marketers shouldn't either. While channel specialists should have input into how success is measured, marketing analysts -- unaffected by the performance of one channel versus another -- should be responsible for determining which programs are most effective. This approach fosters more collaboration among channel specialists in order to improve the consumer experience across the enterprise.

3. Technology is a must! Marketers need the appropriate tools to drive coordinated interaction across multiple channels.

According to our research, marketers who realize better results have access to technology that allows them to strengthen their multi-channel programs. However, 68% of marketers examined believe they need more comprehensive and integrated application suites.

Old Trick, New Spin: What exactly does a "more comprehensive application suite" look like when it comes to modern multichannel marketing? Taking data from multiple sources and consolidating to a single location that drives messaging across multiple channels. Fortunately, more and more marketing platforms are supporting this functionality. Just as technology is fueling the divergence of channels, we must rely on technology to help us consolidate our messaging across those channels.

When things change, our tendency is to hyper-focus. Emerging media is clearly in our sights -- as it should be. Just make sure that in doing so you don't lose sight of the fundamentals. If we zero in on the changes without taking in the larger landscape, we can easily find ourselves looking through the wrong end of the telescope -- thinking our final destination is farther away than it really is.

4 comments about "Looking Through The Wrong End Of A Telescope ".
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  1. Esther Dyson from EDventure, April 17, 2010 at 2:15 p.m.

    YOu wrote: "Taking data from multiple sources and consolidating to a single location that drives messaging across multiple channels...." Please don't do that!! Would you have the same conversation in your mother's house as at a bar or in a dorm room? You should not be spewing the same message across all media. You should be listening, first of all, and then engaging in a way relevant to the conversation and location you have entered. Now, please set the table and invite the grown-ups to dinner!

  2. Ilyas Pannu from United States Postal Service, April 19, 2010 at 9:45 a.m.

    A very logical approach in analysing the buzz and present trend of following the sheep.

  3. Carolyn Demisch from Stern, April 19, 2010 at 11:37 p.m.

    Listening is one of the critical lessons of social media... for more on reaching out to GenY across channels check out the Generation Next Forum on May 14th in NYC:

  4. Morgan Stewart from Trendline Interactive, May 14, 2010 at noon


    We agree with you to a point. We are not advocating that you "spew the same message across all media," we are simply advocating that your messaging is consistent across all media. What you are communicating should be consistent--the customer should decide where and how they want to get information. How those messages are communicated (e.g., tone, presentation, etc.) should be aligned to the social norms of the channel and the expectations of your audience.

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